Classroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture (Paperback)
  • Classroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture (Paperback)
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Classroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture (Paperback)

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Paperback 336 Pages / Published: 20/04/2017
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The schoolhouse has long been a crucible in the construction and contestation of the political concept of "family values." Through Spanish-bilingual and sex education, moderates and conservatives in California came to define the family as a politicized and racialized site in the late 1960s and 1970s. Sex education became a vital arena in the culture wars as cultural conservatives imagined the family as imperiled by morally lax progressives and liberals who advocated for these programs attempted to manage the onslaught of sexual explicitness in broader culture. Many moderates, however, doubted the propriety of addressing such sensitive issues outside the home. Bilingual education, meanwhile, was condemned as a symbol of wasteful federal spending on ethically questionable curricula and an intrusion on local prerogative. Spanish-language bilingual-bicultural programs may seem less relevant to the politics of family, but many Latino parents and students attempted to assert their authority, against great resistance, in impassioned demands to incorporate their cultural and linguistic heritage into the classroom. Both types of educational programs, in their successful implementation and in the reaction they inspired, highlight the rightward turn and enduring progressivism in postwar American political culture. In Classroom Wars, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela charts how a state and a citizenry deeply committed to public education as an engine of civic and moral education navigated the massive changes brought about by the 1960s, including the sexual revolution, school desegregation, and a dramatic increase in Latino immigration. She traces the mounting tensions over educational progressivism, cultural and moral decay, and fiscal improvidence, using sources ranging from policy documents to student newspapers, from course evaluations to oral histories. Petrzela reveals how a growing number of Americans fused values about family, personal, and civic morality, which galvanized a powerful politics that engaged many Californians and, ultimately, many Americans. In doing so, they blurred the distinction between public and private and inspired some of the fiercest classroom wars in American history. Taking readers from the cultures of Orange County mega-churches to Berkeley coffeehouses, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela's history of these classroom controversies sheds light on the bitterness of the battles over diversity we continue to wage today and their influence on schools and society nationwide.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780190675097
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 478 g
Dimensions: 234 x 169 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Admirably and provocatively, Petrzela draws multiple connections between subjects often treated separately: between bilingual education and sex education; between bilingual education, sex education, and the property tax revolt that began in California and swept through the nation; between cultural politics in the classroom and fiscal politics over school funding; and between educational history/historiography and political history/historiography. * Mark Brilliant, History of Education Quarterly *
Classroom Wars is an intelligent, compelling study that connects the seemingly distant policies of bilingual education and sex education to shed new light on political culture. It is an excellent history that ingeniously challenges interpretive narrowness and will be influential in several different historical fields. * Carlos Kevin Blanton, Journal of American History *
Extensive accounts of two critical issues in California public education in the late 1960s and 1970s-sex and Spanish bilingual education-are thoroughly vetted in this book by Petrzela ... Petrzela challenges dichotomies and examines paradoxes, contributing to an enlightening picture of a critical era in California public education ... Recommended. * CHOICE *
In this carefully researched, empirically grounded, and elegantly written book, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela explores debates and politics of bilingual education and sex education in California at the origins of the 'culture wars.' She tells an engaging, accessible, and compelling history of these conflicts that has important implications for how we understand postwar American political culture and education, past and present. Scholars and students of education history, education policy, and postwar American politics and culture will want to read this book. * Tracy L. Steffes, School, author of School, Society, and State: A New Education to Govern Modern America, 1890-1940 *
What's the matter with Kansas - or with America - and its endless culture wars? According to a common liberal refrain, contemporary conservatives have invoked hot-button cultural issues to persuade Americans to vote against their own economic interests. But that claim is itself a liberal conceit, ignoring the many ways that the American Right wove cultural and economic grievances into a cohesive and enduring ideology. No matter which way your own politics lean, you won't be able to understand modern American conservatism without reading Natalia Mehlman Petrzela's brave and original book. * Jonathan Zimmerman, author of Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education *
Well-written and revealing ... Documents political conflict about schooling in California during the 1960s and 1970s ... Petrzela illuminates the shifting political terrain that made these issues so potent. Hers is a telling account of how schooling became a partisan enterprise, especially as educators widened the curricular and extracurricular aims. * John L. Rury, Journal of Interdisciplinary History *
Petrzela is one of the first scholars to bring together two flourishing bodies of historiography: the now massive literature on the rise of the modern American conservative movement and the smaller but expanding corpus of work on Latino/a Americans since the landmark 1965 Hart-Celler Act. That so few historians have yet to couple these two topics is surprising given that hostility to brown-skinned Mexican immigrants has become one of the defining sensibilities of contemporary American conservatism ... Breaks important new ground. * Andrew Hartman, H-1960s *
Petrzela offers a vivid, detailed historiographical account of the politically charged educational policy debates regarding bilingual education and sexual education in California. * Melissa Moschella, American Political Thought *
The archival research ... brings recent and enduring educational controversies to life in Classroom Wars. * Jennifer Burek Pierce, American Historical Review *
creative and insightful ... Petrzela has produced an important book about an understudied part of the culture wars. Her careful and thorough research makes numerous significant arguments relevant to both the past and the present. Thanks to this fine work, we will no longer be able to separate debates over sex-ed from those over bilingual education. * Matthew Avery Sutton, Pacific Historical Review *

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